Recently my family and I took a long trip down to the beach to spend the day with a couple friends and their families. We were rushed and running late (as always) and so we clicked the text they had sent us with the address and hit the road. We did not check the destination point beforehand, we just let the route load and off we went. I think we all know what happened next… Our 1 1/2 hour trip to the shore ended up taking over three hours because we ended up driving almost an hour past our destination. The GPS had mixed up destinations and because we didn’t bother to check where we were headed, we missed our destination by a lot.
Something that strikes me about God is how He is always telling us the goals of His work. Consider:
Deuteronomy 9 where God tells Israel to obey His commands so that they might be successful as His people.
Or God’s promise in Jeremiah 31 to build Israel up once again so that they may worship Him.
Moreover, in Matthew 5, when Jesus confesses He has come to earth so that those who know Him may be children of their Father in Heaven.
And even when God tells the church in Hebrews 12 that He disciplines those He loves so that they may share in His holiness.
Praise God that we are never left in the dark concerning His purposes. He forecasts the purposes of His instructions, commands, revelation, and discipline so that we may be fixed upon His goodness and glory and follow His ways faithfully. God tells us His goals to help us partner with Him toward those goal.
I can’t help but think this ought to be the way we disciple others. More specifically, I have to imagine this is how we ought to parent our children. God perfectly parents us; we should parent our children as He parents us. One way you can parent as God parents you is by continually setting before your children God’s good goals for them and continually explaining how you are helping them there. Make the destination clear and the right route is evident. Establishing God’s goals in your parenting remedies confusion in children (preventing an Ephesians 6:4 situation), fosters partnership between God and parent and child, and provides a cohesive victory when a milestone of God’s goal is reached.
Think of it this way: Rather than just disciplining your child with only consequences, take time to explain how they earned the discipline, explain why their actions are contra-God’s good order, work through how you hope they learn about God and themselves through the discipline, use Scripture to teach them what God’s goals and your hopes are for them moving on from your discipline, forecast your plan to help them toward those goals, and how God’s love leads them to faith more so than action. Do the same for the times you reward your children, spend family time together, urge them to study their Bible, going to church as a family, watch a movie, as they enter the work force, worship idols, even overhear one of their conversations and more.
Without goals planted in the hearts and minds of your children, it just might happen that they will wander and wander fast toward sin. Jeremiah 2:23 images a disobedient and idolatrous Israel as a young and swift camel who is twisting and turning on her way through the wilderness. The cause of this wandering is their wayward heart that has given up on fearing God, the very purpose God had for Israel when He made them His people. Yet, with a godly goal set before them, you can hope they echo Paul’s words and motivation in Philippians 3 when he said he diligently strives toward his goal of knowing Christ and His power, for this is God’s heavenly goal for him. Parents you can help your child pursue God by establishing godly goals in your home.
P.s. Regularly teaching your children God’s goals for them will keep you honest to God’s goals for you as a parent.